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NSA dismisses claims Utah Data Center watches average Americans

 

What would you think if someone told you personal emails, voicemails and web searches,basically your electronic footprint, could be viewed and stored by a government official?

The feds say that would never happen but some say it is, and by 2013 it will all be funneled into the Utah Data Center. 

A more formal description of the center is the First Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative Data Center. 

And it’s huge. One million square feet, all to be filled with more technology and data storage than you could imagine. 

It is not a stretch to say Utah is quickly becoming the data center capitol of the U.S., especially now that the state will be home to what some say is one the largest spy centers in the nation.

Plans for the facility are nothing new. Construction has been well underway for a year, and brainstorming for the facility began a decade ago. The NSA has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the estimated billion dollar data center.

So why is it making headlines now?

In a bombshell article published this month in WIRED Magazine, author James Bamford interviews a whistleblower claiming the NSA has software that searches domestic folks. 

This software can reveal everything from target addresses, to web searches to social media sites to email and phone calls.

It claims any communication that looks suspicious are automatically red flagged. Basically, we’re all at risk for being watched.

The response from the NSA?

That’s simply, not true.

“Many allegations have been made about the planned activities of the Utah Data Center,” NSA public information officer Vanee' Vines wrote in an email. 

“What it will be is a state-of-the-art facility designed to support the Intelligence Community’s efforts to further strengthen and protect the nation. NSA is the executive agent for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and will be the lead agency at the center,” she said.

Her statement runs along the same lines as what NSA director general Keith Alexander said when he was questioned during a Congressional hearing last week by Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson.

Alexander repeatedly assured Rep. Johnson the agency has no interest or capability in eavesdropping on average Americans.

Vines statement is along the same lines. The NSA is building it to support the federal government’s effort to protect the nation's cyber security.

“We are not going to dissect any particular news story – especially one that relies in part on the speculation of former officials and several unnamed sources,” Vines said. “Those of us who are privileged to be a part of this great institution, NSA, see firsthand that our nation is indeed becoming safer as a result of our hard work, dedication and the collaboration across the entire intelligence community.”

Keep in mind it was only weeks ago when Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta was asked at a speech what worries him, personally. 

 A reporter asked the Panetta what keeps him up at night. The Defense Secretary responded swiftly – “a cyber attack.”

Elizabeth Prann currently serves as a Washington-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). She joined the network in 2006 as a production assistant. Click here for more information on Elizabeth Prann